2018 had an unexpected start for me. First, my grandmother passed away which resulted in me flying home to attend her funeral. I was also sexually assaulted by a man I went on a date with while in town to visit my family. As months passed I didn’t have any real expectations for myself other than to finish my Masters Degree & look for another job after graduation. I’d worked for the same company for 12 years & desired my career to go in a different direction but didn’t know what direction that was. Fast forward to the end of May & my son leaves to go to my Mother’s house to stay for the summer. I always appreciate the summer break. I think of all the places I want to visit but make no attempts to plan a trip.
While reading a book called When God Says Yes by Nikki Carpenter, she mentioned a woman named Heather Lindsey. She mentioned how dynamic Heather & her ministry is. So I went to Facebook & looked her up. I saw she had a conference for women named Pinky Promise. Without looking up all the details, I assumed it was an all women’s empowerment conference. I thought it’d be great to attend so I could network. Especially since I was planning to look for a job later on in the year. I also hoped through speaking to other women about their relationship woes I could break a 5-year-old soul-tie that I failed to break through prayer, fasting, sleeping with other men, etc. I reached out to some of my girlfriends to see if they wanted to go, but they all declined. So I bought my ticket & planned to attend alone.
In May I had an old classmate of mine reach out to me. He was in ministry & at the time I was not committed to my relationship with the Lord. I knew Jesus as my Lord & Savior, but I didn’t make much effort to obey His will or hear His voice. I recall one of the first conversations with the gentleman. He was saying how he just got of church & I made a wisecrack about it. I then began to give my opinion on why I no longer attended church. “They’re corrupt, people are always looking for a handout, the church is about entertainment & I’m cool off of the whole church experience.” I then caught myself, and began to apologize in case I had offended him. His response, “We don’t have to talk about church. How you feel is not going to change how I feel about the Lord.” I was blown back. He stood firm in his belief & didn’t try to persuade me or counteract my comments.
The first day of the conference I was really excited! I recorded a video & sent it to the gentleman (I wanted him to see how cute I looked). On the first day of the conference, women were broken up into groups geographically. I was apart of the southeast region. My group decided to sit in a circle & went around answering the questions given to us by the Pinky Promise staff. It was an eye-opening experience seeing these women pour out their hearts & their love for the Lord & they did so unapologetically. They ranged from 18-55 years old; lawyers, doctors, college students, single Mother’s, wives. By day three my heart was no longer hardened. I eagerly praised & worshiped the Lord. I cried and I spoke of my disappointments with fellow women. I even encouraged others. I found myself desiring to love God’s people. Not just the women at the conference but people within the church as well. My soul-tie was broken. I didn’t think or even desire to be with the man I had been hung up on for five years.
I was able to stay in contact with some of the ladies I met at the conference but still found myself seeking constant fellowship with God’s people. However, in the past when I attended church, I wasn’t much of a person to interact after service. I don’t like Christianese. Usually, I would try to get to my car as fast as I could after benediction. I knew this had to change. I began to attend several churches a week. Asking God to send me to the place I could serve & receive teaching of the true WORD of God. One day while studying I decided to take a break to see if any events were going on in the city I could attend. I came across a free Spoken Word & Worship Night hosted by an Organization called One Encounter. I got my ticket on Eventbrite and I didn’t ask any of my friends to go this time.
When I walked into the event I saw two people. One being a lady named Joanna. I told her I was there by myself & her reply, “So am I!” I filled out a name tag & found a seat. The event was in a church & the pews were quite full. First was the spoken word portion. Poetry, songs, rap & even a sign language ministry went forth. Next was the worship service. After worship, the Organization Leader Deena Taylor stated that it was a special night. While doing homeless outreach earlier that day they came across a woman who had never been baptized but desired to be. So the Pastor of the church Arthur Breland filled up the baptism pool & the woman was baptized. Then Pastor Arthur opened up the floor to anyone who wanted to get baptized. I was baptized back in 2006 & didn’t know if it was appropriate to get baptized again. I ran up to Deena to ask if it was & she said if I felt led to, go for it. They gave me a One Encounter shirt & when it was my turn, I walked into the baptism pool. It was cold & Pastor Arthur helped me down the stairs. He asked why I wanted to get baptized & I told him it was because I had been in the wilderness for so long & I was ready to come out & stop running. He praised God & before I knew it I was under the water. Going down as the old man & coming up as the new man. We both praised God while in the baptism pool.
I called the gentleman who I had went to school with telling him everything. I was so excited! He said he wished he could hug me & that made me feel special. That night I prayed to God asking Him to bring me friends who were after His heart. I prayed that I didn’t run right after service anymore but actually took out the time to speak to someone.
The next day being Sunday I went back to the same church to attend their service. The first message I heard Pastor Arthur speak was about discipleship. It was a message that had been on my heart. I desired to get to work for the Lord & that can be challenging when you don’t know where to start. Yet, here was a Pastor speaking on discipling members in the Body of Christ. After service was over I went to the bathroom to buy myself some time. I looked in the bathroom mirror & knew I could do it. I thought…I’ll walk slowly towards the door & maybe I’ll catch a conversation. Sure enough as I’m walking to the entrance of the church Deena, the organizer of One Encounter, she stopped me as she recognized me from last night. Then Joanna came over with the biggest smile ever; then Rukeya. We all chatted and they all asked for my number. I was in awe. Never before had I connected with people in church on the first day.
Now I am a member of the church & attend all of One Encounters events. My relationship with the Lord has been revived & I can now say without a shadow of a doubt I am loved (John 3:16). I am a daughter of the Most High God (1 John 3:1). I am saved (Romans 10:9). Grace & mercy follow me all the days of my life (Psalms 23:6). I am a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10) who is fearfully & wonderfully made by God (Psalms 139:14). My relationship with the Lord is an individual one, but it’s not a lonely walk (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). As I surrender all of who I am, He purges my heart of all that does not belong, gracing me with the opportunity to continue in #DyingDaily. I obey His commands & seek out His will in all that I do.
Father God, I pray that anyone reading this feels your love right here & right now. May they know that you knew them before they were even formed in their mother’s womb. May they know that they too were fearfully & wonderfully made. May they realize that nothing can separate them from your love. Their true identity rests in you. Not their past. Not their job. Not their bank account. Not their pain. It all rests in you & they’re better for it. In Jesus Name.